Miles to go


(Inspired by Robert Frost)




If only I had enough pens, enough to write ghazals in my sleep.

then I would know I have miles to go, miles to go before I sleep.


In my city, sirens are lullabies and trucks perform symphonies.

when their instruments clash in dawn’s chill, time stalls for sleep.


Cramming into subway cars, we stare into spaces devoid of eyes.

we grip poles and sink into seats, defying the poison of sleep.


Sometimes I walk until streets fail to recognize me, until I lose myself

until I follow instinct to Queen’s Park, where the homeless sleep.


At Bay & Bloor, crowds push and thrust themselves into traffic,

maneuvering through humming cars, cars that routinely fall asleep.


Women with Prada fur coats dig designer heels into concrete

freshly glossed nails and coiffed hair put self loathing to sleep.


Some faces stretch beyond expression, blank and repulsively perfect

if they could speak, they’d confide, We don’t dream when we sleep.


At dusk, when bitterness creeps in and the horizon is bruised blue,

we enter cafes and sip our espresso to drive away the fear of sleep.


When night breaks open and the city is glowing with artificial light,

shopkeepers force doors shut and we must lull ourselves to sleep.


My evening commences at 3 am, with dead poets resting in my bed.

with my fingers skimming their lips, what is the allure of sleep?


I stay awake with black tea, mourning words without ink

Frost whispers in my hair, “Miles to go, Israh, before you sleep.”